Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Remembering a year ago

Yesterday (April 29) marked the one year anniversary of TJ going home to live with Jesus.  There are times I can't believe it's already been a year (it seems as if it WERE yesterday) and at other times it seems like forever ago.  I wanted the day to be special - a day to reflect and remember our sweet TJ.  In the Disney movie Tangled the mom & dad (and the community) let off sky lanterns in memory of their daughter's birthday.  I thought this would be a perfect way to honor TJ.  In the movie they are way smaller - so I ordered one per family (we included both sides of our families).  Since it's better to do these when it is dark we had to either let them off early in the morning or late at night.  Well since TJ had passed away at 5:20 am - Jon thought it was fitting (as did I) to do it in the morning.  I had passed all of them out ahead of time so anyone who wanted to could write a message to TJ.  We also decided to invite everyone over to our house for breakfast afterwards.  So at 5:00 am Monday morning we all met as a family out at the cemetery.  Jon said a few words and then we all lit our lanterns.  We tried to let them all go at once around the time TJ passed.  It was pretty neat!  Here are a few pictures of that.  (My camera didn't work the best so I don't have very many or good pictures - I wish now I would have asked somebody else to take the pictures for me).



 
This was the package all the lanterns came in.



 
Here is some of the group lighting and getting the lanterns ready. (my camera date must be off)
 


 
 
Here they are floating away!
 
 
After we watched them float away we all got into our vehicles and came back for breakfast.  I really wanted it to be a breakfast that TJ would have wanted - but also needed something quick and easy - so we settled for egg casserole, muffins, fresh fruit and cinnamon rolls.  I also wanted to give them a piece of TJ to take home with them so I made up little gift bags for every family.  They received a picture DVD (thank you Cody!) - the one that was made and played at the visitation and funeral, 3 Musketeer's, a bouquet of daisies and a dragon fly (from the dragon fly story - if you haven't heard it you should google it - it's pretty cool).  Most of the family left around 7 or little after.  My older sister and her boys stayed around a little longer.  I was really glad she did.  I was feeling VERY under the weather so she helped clean up and her boys entertained (played with) my boys.  I had let the boys decide whether or not they wanted to go to school - which all of them said NO!  Because I was sick I slept the majority of the day.  I made some lunch for the boys and took a nap.  Woke up from my nap to feed them supper, give them showers and put them to bed.  I do believe the boys and I were all in bed no later than 7.  In fact Jon said he came home around 7:45 - he came in the house and we were all sound asleep!!  That poor guy was out working until 3am this morning - CRAZY!!  Tis the season.
 
Because I was sick all day I feel like I never really got to reflect or feel anything about what happened a year ago.  It masked any kind of emotions I might have felt.  I know the whole week prior to it - I was getting things ready - anticipating the day - that the whole week was hard.  I found myself crying every single day.  In fact Sunday afternoon I was making the egg casseroles and cried and chopped that ham as if I needed to kill it first.  I have felt every emotion possible over the past week that maybe I wore myself out and my body couldn't take it anymore.  I remember a year ago, sleeping in bed with TJ.  Holding his right hand with my left and snuggling with him - putting my right hand over his chest.  I remember his breathing changing and Jon waking up just seconds before his last breath was taken.  I remember not feeling the beat of his heart anymore.  I knew he was no longer with us, but for some odd reason I needed the confirmation from the nurse.  AHHHHHH!  I just want to scream!!!  It's just not right or fair.  He should be here with us!  Have you ever heard the song Homesick by Mercy Me?  That is exactly what I am feeling (thinking).  If you haven't you need to check it out.  Here are the words:
 
  You're in a better place, I've heard a thousand times
And at least a thousand times I've rejoiced for you
But the reason why I'm broken, the reason why I cry
Is how long must I wait to be with you

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

Help me Lord cause I don't understand your ways
The reason why I wonder if I'll ever know
But, even if you showed me, the hurt would be the same
Cause I'm still here so far away from home

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

In Christ, there are no goodbye
And in Christ, there is no end
So I'll hold onto Jesus with all that I have
To see you again
To see you again

And I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow

I've never been more homesick than now
 
 
OH how I miss that kid.  Over the past year I have reflected a lot about TJ and his life (and the short journey of his cancer) and he has taught me so much and for that I will be forever grateful.  He taught me to be ok with who I am.  Don't try to be someone your not.  TJ lived this out in his own life.  I remember Jon and I trying to change him and it didn't work!  He was completely content with being who God made him to be.  He was authentic!  And that is something I'm trying to be.  He taught me to love Jesus.  TJ had a passion for loving Jesus - he thought everyone should and he couldn't understand why someone wouldn't.  Well, in this last year I have been struggling to love and trust him.  But this too is something I'm working on.  I've learned from his friends what kind of friend TJ really was to them.  He was someone they could go to - to talk to - to be themselves.  I hope I can be this kind of friend to my friends.  This past year without TJ hasn't been easy and we miss so much about him and what he brought to this family -laughter, joy, silliness, loudness and fun.  Don't get me wrong we had our disagreements and arguments - but overall he was a blessing to this family.  He was a great big brother - I often think what the boys would be like (and our house) if he were still here.  I also think about how tall he might be - would he have passed me up?  What kind of hairstyle would he have wanted?  What 4-H projects would he have entered in the fair this year?  The list goes on and on.  You know I replay the last three months of TJ's life and ask myself was there anything more we could have done.  If we would have done this, would he still be here?  Or what about that?  I am constantly trying to figure out ways to get him back.  The truth is I can't - he is gone and it won't be until I enter Heaven's gates that I will see my son again.  And when I do I will go running to him.  Look into his beautiful brown eyes see that wonderful smile of his and tell him how much I have missed him.  I can't wait to dance with him, hold his hand, to hear him sing and just to hear the sound of his voice again.  I miss you Thomas Jon so much it hurts!  I love you!

Monday, April 22, 2013

The GLOW Run!

A little over two months ago my younger sister and I signed up for the GLOW Run!  I had seen it advertised somewhere (don't remember where) and thought it looked like fun.  In fact, it is described like this:  The Glow Run 5k Run/Walk event is a one of a kind night time experience that is less about how fast you run and more about enjoying the music filled glowing course with your friends and family.  Well, we had good intentions of training but as always, life happened and we didn't train as we had hoped.  But after the last email I had received saying there were 12,000+ signed up and they weren't even timing the event - I figured we wouldn't be last!!   The email also said they would be giving out awards for the top glow people, so we decided to make some costumes.  We bought tube socks - painted them fluorescent green and striped them out with glow in the dark puff paint.  We also made a tutu and sprayed it with glow in the dark spray paint.  I do believe I was most excited about our costumes!! 

So this past Saturday (the 20th) was the actual event.  When we arrived, there were already hundreds of people all decked out in their glow run attire!  I do believe Jon was a little worried we were going to be the weirdest ones there - he was reassured that we were not! (Who knew that we could embarrass Jon?)  It was crazy all the people and the outfits!!  The event started and ended at the Science Center of Iowa.  We kept bumping into people we knew - including our cousin Sally!  It was SO MUCH FUN!!!  I've never had that much fun at a 5K!  I believe all 5K's should be this much fun.  When it was time for the race to actually begin - they let 1000 people go at a time.  We were in the third leg to be released.  There were several spots along the course that had little stations with black lights so you could stop and take a picture.  There were a couple of DJ's along the way playing music too.  And then there were tent/tunnel like things that you could run through to see how you glowed!!  I was really proud of us - we ended up jogging most of the course!  We wanted to time ourselves to see how long we did actually take, but we couldn't find the stopwatch on my sister's phone!  Jon and Jason figured it took us a little over a half hour!  Not bad for not training!!

We had so much fun!  I will definitely be doing this race again!  I would recommend it for all of you guys - even if you aren't a runner - it is just a fun event to be a part of.  I'll share with you some pictures of the night!



 
 
(WAY) before the race!
 
 
 

 
 
With our two biggest fans!
 
 
 
 
 

Our cousin Sally!
 
 
 
 

 
 
Here we go!
 
 
 
 

 
After the race with our BIG Medal!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Creative Determination!

The other day Charlie wanted to get the mail.  Well, he isn't tall enough to open the lid, reach inside and get the mail out - I wasn't sure how this was going to work - so I watched.  Here is what I saw:


 
He takes the footstool off the deck...

 
carries it down the sidewalk to the mailbox.
 

 
Then he sets it down....
 

 
climbs on top to open and get the mail out.
 

 
Last... he sets the mail on top of the step stool and carries it back to set on the deck!  Then he rings the doorbell to bring the mail inside!
 
 
I must confess that the first day I watched.  So the next day when the mailman pulled in and Charlie said, "I'll get the mail" I ran to get my camera.  You can't tell this kid he is too small for something.  He will find a way!  I absolutely love that about him.  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Special Gift!

I had received a phone call from my great Aunt Shirley telling me she had made me something and wanted to bring it over.  Yesterday she stopped by to give me what she had made.  It was a beautiful quilt.  But it wasn't an ordinary quilt.  She had started this project when TJ was sick.  She took several quilting squares to different locations for signatures and words of encouragement.  Two squares were left in the bank in New Sharon for members of the community to sign.  Another was given to TJ's classmates.  One was from the nurses and volunteers at the Serenity House.  Two were from family - the Fergusons (my extended family) and Wilkenings.  And another one was signed by our neighborhood.  I was told that a square was given to my side of the family and Jon's side of the family but she never got those back, so she decided to go ahead and make it without them.  I absolutely LOVE this quilt.  It's been fun to see all who signed it and to read the comforting words people wrote us a year ago.  She told me that even though we may not feel it or think it - all these people still care, love and are praying for us.  There are days we feel like we are all alone in this so that was nice to hear!  Thank you Shirley for your hard work and thoughtfulness.  You went above and beyond to bless this grieving mother - it's a gift I'll treasure forever!!




This is the beautiful quilt!
 
 
 
 
 
 
This square was signed by all the Serenity House staff & volunteers.
 
 

 
This one has the signatures of all of TJ's classmates!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

What a day!

I was going to update all of you yesterday, but I got busy and by the end of the day I was exhausted.  So I'll share with you today!

Yesterday was Will's eye surgery date.  I wasn't looking forward to it and neither was he.  We tried talking to him about it on the way up to Des Moines.  And I thought we had done a good job and he was feeling good about it until we parked the truck.  He didn't even want to get out!  We finally convinced him to get out, but the minute he stepped out the crying began.  We checked him in and the kid threw a fit when she tried to put on his ID bracelet.  I knew it wasn't going to be good after that.  I'm not sure we even waited five minutes in the waiting room before they called us back.  Once we were back there he kept crying, kicking, screaming "I want to go back to the truck" and carrying on.  He wouldn't cooperate with the nurses at all.  They finally got that thing that you put on your finger to check the oxygen and heartbeat - his heart rate was up to 147 bpm at one time!  It reminded me of TJ when he would have his "fits."  Then Dr. Suh came in.  That guy is pretty good with kids.  He got Will calmed down and even had him laughing.  That quickly came to an end when they came to take him to surgery.  They pried him off my lap and carried him kicking and screaming.  I could hardly stand it.  It's one of those things where you are so mad at the kid for the way he is acting and carrying on YET at the same time you feel so bad and helpless that you can't do more for him.  We headed on out to the waiting room - I was trying not to cry myself.  I just don't know how to help him get over his fears.  He is fearful of absolutely everything.  And it consumes him like I've never seen before.  Within a few minutes one of the nurses came out and said within a couple of breaths he was out and that he did a great job.  That made me feel better.  I swear we didn't sit there long before they told us to go to the counseling room to speak with Dr. Suh.  He told us that everything went great!  It's hard for me to explain the surgery without using my hands (or face), so I'll do my best to describe what they did.  Since his eye was crossing in they took the outer eye muscle and pulled it out.  So his eye actually turns out now - this will only be temporary until the muscle relaxes.  He also told us because of this his vision would be off and he could potentially see double for up to two weeks.  He also told us no playing with balls or physical activity for two weeks.  This could be a hard one - but the weather isn't going to be the greatest for the next couple of days so that will help.  We then went back out to the waiting room until they called us back to go see Will.  When we got back there they had him cuddled up in a blanket holding him.  The nurse gave him to me and we cuddled in the chair until it was time to go home.  I like that Will much better than the previous Will!!  He got along really well.  He did say at one point yesterday that he saw 2 Dads!  He was pretty tired and groggy most of the day.  He even complained of his tummy hurting part of the day.  You know Will doesn't feel good when he doesn't eat!  He finally ate a pretty decent supper which I was pleased to see.

Once we got home and I got Will settled in I went outside to work on TJ's flower garden.  This was the one that TJ planted several years ago.  It got neglected last year and needed a little TLC this year.  As I worked on it my emotions flew from one extreme to the other.  By the time I got done I was exhausted both physically and emotionally. 

I took a little break and then decided to tackle the car.  It needed cleaned out in the inside pretty bad.  I worked on it in Jon's shop, so I set up a lawn chair for Will to hang out in.  I thought the nice weather and fresh air would do him some good.  We put some sun glasses on him and out we went.  I tell you cleaning out the car is WAY easier than van ever was.  It didn't take me near as long - which made it even better (that is one job I don't like to do).  While I was finishing that up I got a call from Mom saying Dad had hitched up the mules and they were headed over.  We got done with the car, I checked to make sure the boys didn't have homework and we packed up some food for supper.  Mom and Dad got there and we loaded up in the wagon and rode back over to Mom and Dad's.  It was nice.  I know the boys enjoyed it too.  I believe it was the perfect ending to an exhausting, emotional day.  Charlie even got to drive the mules!  That's when the ride got a little crazy!!  Not really.  We got to Mom & Dad's had supper, dessert and then Mom brought us back home.  I gave Will his drops and medicine and tucked all the boys in for bed.  I picked up the house a bit.  Jon came in for the night, I warmed up some supper and it was off to bed.

Will slept all through the night which I am thankful for.  He is doing pretty well today too - we even worked on part of his homework.  He should be able to go back to school tomorrow and then we go back up to the doctor on Friday.  Hoping he says everything looks great!  I'm glad that day is over.  Hopefully this surgery works better than the previous one and Will's vision will continue to improve.  Continue to pray for healing, that surgery is successful and he won't fight putting the eye drops in.  Only 76 more drops to go!!


 
This picture was taken from his last surgery!  There was NO WAY we were ever going to get a picture taken yesterday!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

For Better or For Worse!

Fourteen years ago today was a day I'll cherish and remember (hopefully) forever!  It's the day I married my best friend.  I remember it as if it were today.  For those of you who don't know - we were married at 9:30 AM.  Yep, that's right, in the morning (I must have been more of a morning person back then)!  It was Easter weekend.  Back then our church did Easter Lilies and in 1999 there just happen to be over 70 that we were allowed to use plus the decorations of fresh cut spring time flowers.  Our flower lady did an amazing job - it was absolutely gorgeous!

We arrived at the church to do hair, make up and get dressed.  Since we had a morning wedding, no pictures were going to be taken until after the wedding was over.  So the first time Jon would see me was when I would walk down the aisle!  We didn't have your usually wedding (obviously).  I had a good friend of mine, along with her parents start off the wedding with praise songs.  This was after Jon had seated the grandparents and parents.  After the last song was over it was finally time to start the actual ceremony.  We had decided to only have family stand up with us.  I had my two sisters and he had his two brothers.  However, we had one of each on each side of us.  Our niece - Megan - was our flower girl and my cousin's son - Caleb - was our ring bearer.  Just a side note, Megan is now a Junior in high school and Caleb - I have to look up to talk to him!  Now it was my turn to walk down the aisle.  I remember my Dad asking me - "are you sure you want to do this?"  To which I responded "YES!"  Jon was smiling from ear to ear - he couldn't stop!  It absolutely made my day.  We continued on with the ceremony as usual.  Then just before the part when he says you may kiss the bride - we did another different thing.  You see I had wanted a slide show during the reception, but since we had to have our reception in the church basement it was going to be difficult for everyone to see, SO we decided to do it upstairs.  It's still one my favorite parts - I watch it every year on our anniversary (need to do that yet!).  After the slide show was over we went back up on stage, he kissed the bride and the moment I had been waiting for......"Ladies and gentlemen I now give you MR. & MRS. JON GOEMAAT!!!!" 

After ushering everyone out, we went downstairs to breakfast casserole, muffins, frozen fruit cups and ...cake!  The plan after we were done was to drive my car around for just a bit and then come back for pictures.  Well when we went outside to leave - a big, red tractor was waiting for us.  This was a total surprise to us - our parents had done it for us.  I think Jon was so excited about that silly tractor - he forgot about his new bride!  Thank goodness for brother-in-laws - mine helped me up into that thing!  We drove around a little bit and came back to start pictures.  It was the end to a perfect day.  I believe we were on our way to our honeymoon by early afternoon!!!  Now who is the strange one?!?!

A lot has happened in the fourteen years we've been married - some joyous and happy - while others not so much.  We have definitely had some mountain tops - our four boys, buying our first farm/place, good jobs, vacations, but with those mountains come valleys - a complete career change, complications from surgery, the loss of our son.  It hasn't always been easy - it's something we have to work on every single day.  The poor guy is doomed - I'm half Carson and half Ferguson (for those of you who don't know either side - we are VERY stubborn), but he loves me still.  He isn't always so easy either, but he provides for his family, he works hard, he makes us laugh and he loves us.  I didn't know what to expect fourteen years ago when I said, "I do", but one thing I know for sure - I wouldn't want to travel this journey with anyone else.  I love this man and I can't wait to grow old with him!!   

I wanted to share with you some pictures of us over the years, but my computer doesn't go back that far.  Who am I kidding, I don't want you to see how we've "changed" over the years!



 
Here we are in the beginning!  (it was the only picture I had on my computer)
 
 
 
 

 

 Here we are 14 years later! 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tis the season...TAX season!

That lovely time of year has approached us......Income tax season!  Usually we have it done by now, however farmers didn't have to file by the usual March 1 deadline this year.  Which was nice, but it just prolonged the inevitable!  Well, I'm not sure how everyone else does their taxes, but this is usually what Jon and I do.  I enter the checkbook into the computer.  I always start of the year good and enter each week/month and then I'll get busy and it will slide and I end up doing the whole year in a matter of a couple of days.  I'm sure none of you ever let that happen!!  Well this time when I went to start working on entering it - I only had January done.  So needless to say I had a lot of work ahead of me!  (I did have it all entered into the computer by last week)  After I enter everything in - that's when Jon takes over.  He does some report and goes through everything and then asks questions.  Then he takes everything he needs and heads to the accountant.  NOT THIS YEAR!!  He made me do it ALL!  I know it - what was he thinking!!!  He's been so super busy lately and as much as I DID NOT want to do this - I figured it was the least I could do.  I could take a little stress off of him.  We had had a couple different appointments earlier in the year, but things came up and we had to reschedule so today (April 2) was our appointment.  And what did I do (what I do best) - procrastinated!!  Yep, I waited to work on it until yesterday, on a day when the kids had no school.  What was I thinking?  In my defense, Jon just informed me yesterday morning that I was the one that was going to get everything ready to go!  I believe I had everything ready to go by 5:00 last night.  Not too bad for doing this the first time EVER!  So during supper I told Jon I had everything ready for him to go for his appointment.  To which he informed me that I was the one going.  We went rounds about this until I finally gave up.  It was again a way I could help out and relieve a bit of pressure.  I guess I should back up just a little bit - when Jon and I were first married I went to the income tax appointment with him.  However, I just sat there and never really inputted any information - hence the reason I stay home now.  Maybe that isn't wise - but I had helped get everything ready - so it's not like I was completely in the dark about our finances.  So not had it only been several years since I've gone - now I was going BY MYSELF!!  I honestly had troubles sleeping last night - I know, crazy, stupid, but that's me sometimes!!  So this morning after the kids got on the bus I headed into town for the dreaded appointment.  Well after being there almost three hours we were finally done!  When I went to leave he told me I had done a good job and that Jon could just stay home from now on, we don't need him - to which I said, "I don't think so!" 

Monday, April 1, 2013

A new look at Easter!

I know I'm a day late - but better late than never, right?  Plus, I needed some time to reflect on this first.  You see, I have always loved Easter.  But this year Easter was a little different to me.  I saw it in a whole new perspective.  Our church put on "The Stations of the Cross."  It portrays the last few days of Jesus life here on Earth.  The youth group sponsors were responsible for setting up three of these stations - two stations that were only going to be seen by our youth group and a handful of others.  Jon and I had been gone when some of these planning meetings were held - so I honestly felt clueless on a lot of this (which is totally all my fault).  Anyway, I knew what it was, yet at the same time didn't really know what to expect.  Sunday night (Palm Sunday) we took our youth group through eight stations.  We read a scripture verse, an explanation of those verses and an application to our lives.  I have to make a confession - my week had been crazy and Sunday afternoon was the first time I actually got the chance to read what I was going to read to our youth(I honestly think there was a reason for that - as you will find out as you keep reading).  I learned things that night that I'm not sure I knew before.  Or maybe I had, but it didn't really sink in and now with a new outlook on life, it was if I was hearing the story for the first time.  We started in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus goes to pray and his disciples fall asleep.  He knew what was about to happen and prayed "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not as I will but as you will."  Did you catch that?  Have you ever prayed a prayer like that?  I know I did and it was one of the hardest prayers I've ever prayed.  It's so easy to just pray for what we want - like God is Santa - here's my list of all my wants, please give them all to me.  But if we would be honest with ourselves - God has a plan for us - one so much more than we could ever imagine - wouldn't you want to pray for God's will?  (I know this is easier said than done, but I'm working on it).  But not only that, Jesus asks his disciples to be praying and what do they do, they fall asleep.  I thought about that - how often have I taken the easy way out knowing God was desiring SO much more for me.  Again, something I'm working on!

Then we traveled on to where Judas betrays Jesus.  I know that Jesus knew this was going to happen, but have you ever had this happen to you?  However, the difference is we don't expect it - we've been friends with someone - only to later have them betray you.  OR perhaps you are the one that betrayed a friend.  I haven't always been a good friend - especially now.  I have been very selfish lately.  It made me think about my relationships - not only with others, but with Christ as well.  I am Judas.  I need to work harder at all my relationships including mine with Christ.  I have drifted away and it's time to come back.

Next was the scene where Peter denies Jesus.  This was one of Jesus closet friends, yet he denies he ever knew him.  I thought about that - how often do I deny Christ.  Are people even aware that I have a relationship with him?  OR do they know yet I try to act like I don't.  This too has been a struggle for me this last year.

The next four scenes were the hardest for me.  They were - Jesus is scourged (beaten), Jesus carries his cross, Jesus is nailed to the cross and Jesus crucified.  I knew about each of these and had seen the terrible image portrayed in the movie The Passion of the Christ, however, I was looking at it in a different light now.  We read the following to our group of sr. high youth (about when Jesus was scourged):  Almost all of us know that Jesus died on a cross.  But, do we really understand what that really entailed?  Before being taken to the place of execution those who were to be crucified were whipped.  This was not done with an "Indiana Jones" whip, but with something far more awful.  A scourging whip consisted of several leather strips connected to a wooden handle.  Attached to each of the leather strips were pieces of bone, lead, or other sharp objects.  Obviously these sharp and jagged pieces took an extreme toll on a prisoner's body, so much so that it was not infrequent for prisoners to die from this punishment alone.  It is believed that Jesus was whipped 40 times, an amount often fatal.  The purpose of the whipping was to weaken the prisoner for the actual crucifixion.  After enduring the suffering of the whipping Jesus was ridiculed by the soldiers.  They ripped his clothes, mockingly put a scarlet robe and a crown of thorns on him, and gave him a reed to serve as a scepter.  They mocked his supposed role as "King of the Jews", doing everything they could to show how un-powerful he really was.  Then the part when he carried his cross we read, "Crucifixion was an awful way to die.  It was typically reserved for the worst criminals, specifically those who committed particularly heinous crimes.  It was meant to be both an excruciation way for the prisoner to die and as a visible warning to the community to not commit similar crimes.  Once arriving at the place of crucifixion Jesus would have been nailed to the crossbeam either in the middle of his palms or in his wrists.  The cross would have then been lifted up, with Jesus being left there until he died.  Death came slowly, often as a result blood loss due to scourging, an infection, or malnutrition.  Prisoners were positioned on the cross in such a manner that in order to take good breaths they had to lift themselves up, which took energy they did not have and was painful given the nail through their hand.  Failure to consistently pull themselves up could lead to death by asphyxiation.  In Jesus' case death came in six hours, far less than was typical.  This was likely due to the severity of the lashings he had already received.  In any case, Jesus died after having endured great betrayal, rejections, denial, mocking and physical pain."   I have heard this before, I knew it, however, this time was different.  You see I thought about all the pain Jesus went through.  I know I shouldn't compare, but TJ was in pain and he got morphine, he had troubles breathing so they gave him oxygen.  Jesus didn't have anything like that.  In fact when he was offered something he refused it.  He felt it all.  WHY?  Was he this terrible criminal who had done terrible things?  NO - He was perfect in EVERY way.  He came to SAVE us.  It is still hard for me to completely fathom all what Christ did for me.  For you.  I thought that watching my son die was hard - it was extremely hard.  But think about God - his one and only son went through so much pain, torture and death - so I that MY (your) sins would be forgiven - so that I (we) too may live in Heaven some day.  We were able to nail our sins on the cross - I didn't do it this particular night - but we were given the chance to at our Thursday night service.  The sound of the hammer hitting those nails - it pierces your ears.  It was because of my sin - Jesus hung on that cross.  And then we walked upstairs to see Jesus hanging on the cross.  It was AMAZING!  I felt as if I were back to the actual day - it was so real, so touching.  Have you REALLY thought about what Christ did for you?  I saw it in a whole new light this year - one I hope I NEVER forget.

Our eighth stations was the empty tomb.  On our way we were greeted by the two Mary's - the joy, excitement in their voices.  Do I share that kind of excitement for Jesus or even to tell others about Jesus?  Do I have a passion for Jesus - can others see it?  This is something that I have put to the side for awhile, but now I am ready to pick up where I left off and to work harder at it.  We serve a risen savior - he conquered death - He is ALIVE!!

Did you reflect this Easter what Christ did for you?  It's not too late!